Long before arena tours and stadium gigs, a humble former Army hut once put Mudeford firmly on Britain’s musical map.
For a few years in the mid-1960s the Bure Club, on the site of what is now The Sandpiper pub, was one of the area’s hottest live music venues and played host to rock ’n’ roll royalty like Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent, American blues legends John Lee Hooker and Memphis Slim, and British beat stars such as The Animals, Lulu & the Luvvers, the Nashville Teens and Dave Dee Dozy Beaky Mick & Tich.
And it’s possible that had their fame been delayed just a little longer both The Beatles and The Rolling Stones might have played there on different nights in 1963 – the Fab Four bought out their few remaining club dates in favour of theatre package tours, while the night the Stones were due to play there, October 27, they ended up in Salisbury on tour with the Everly Brothers, Little Richard and Bo Diddley.
Now living in the United States, drummer John Walker played the Bure Club in the early 1960s with a band called Ten Feet Five, who later became The Troggs.
“I played there several times with Ten Feet Five, once with Brian Poole and the Tremeloes.
“In fact, we were down to play there with an emerging band called The Beatles, but they broke big and bought themselves out of their club/dance hall contracts. As far as were concerned, The Bure Club was one of the better venues on the circuit.”
The club was run by Dave Stickley who died in 2010, but his son Lyndon told Christchurch History Society: “I’ve never met anyone who didn’t have a wry smile on their face when recalling the visits they’d made to the club. Dave booked the Stones, but by the time the gig came around, they’d become so big that he had to move the performance to Salisbury.”
The roots of the Bure Club lay in the café that opened next to Friars Cliff Motors in 1958 and made local youngsters welcome. After a few months they asked the owner Mrs Macklin if they could start a record club in the old Bure Homage estate country club, which she also owned, and within a few months the Bure Club was hosting live music at weekends.
Bournemouth band Johnny King and the Raiders played there every Friday until late 1961. The entrance fee was two shillings.
“I remember swapping emails with their bandleader the late Rog Collis who told me that Johnny King and the Raiders used to get a slice of the door money, which eventually made it a very lucrative gig,” recalls Al Kirtley, who played the Bure Club regularly in 1961 with Dave Anthony and the Rebels whose line up include future King Crimson members Peter and Michael Giles.
Around that time the venue started hosting Saturday night gigs as well and was home to regular appearances by a local group called The Kapota whose line up included guitarist Andy Summers, later to find fame first with Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band and the international superstardom with The Police.
Mrs Macklin, whose son John ran Friars Cliff Motors, eventually sold the club to Dave Stickley who established its national reputation, also booking the likes of Cilla Black, Joe Brown, Marty Wilde, Screaming Jay Hawkins, Long John Baldry and Sounds Incorporated.
The name that still excites the most interest from music aficionados is that of John Lee Hooker, the legendary blues guitarist whose electrified take on the Delta blues inspired the likes of the Rolling Stones. In the UK to appear on the Ready Steady Go TV show, Hooker then headed out on tour and arrived in Mudeford on October 24, 1964.
“Everyone was amazed to find out he was playing in the area,” says Keith Collins, guitarist with local band The Roadrunners who had landed the opening spot on the night. “But he turned up drunk out of his mind. We played our set, which was based on the first two Rolling Stones albums, then Dave Stickley asked me to stand at the back of the stage with my guitar plugged in ready to fill in the gaps if John Lee Hooker wasn’t able to play properly.
“I didn’t have to do much, but even so, what a privilege to play there. The Bure Club was an incredible place for a few years, although it amazes me how everyone ever got out there from Bournemouth.”
• With thanks to Christchurch History Society, which has an index of surnames mentioned in the Christchurch Times from 1855 to 1938 available though its website, www.historychristchurch.org.uk. The society also has microfilm copies of the Christchurch Times from 1861 to 1918 and 1925 to 1983 and limited microfilm copies of the paper from January 2, 1858 to December 29, 1860.
• First published in Christchurch Times.